Baby Sign

 

The term “baby sign” is all the rage right now.  What is “baby sign” and how can you use it with your little one?

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What is “baby sign”?

Baby Sign refers to signs taken from a formal, organized language, such as American Sign Language (ASL) to support early developing communication interactions.  Baby sign and gestures typically represent one-word phrases and do not follow and grammar rules.

I don’t know sign language.  Is there a program to use?

There are a lot of programs available.  To be honest, many look wonderful. However, my of the educators I know who have used sign with young students and their own children say that they do not follow a program and introduce signs that fit into their daily routines.  Many suggest the use of a  paper, poster, book, even YouTube videos to introduce the signs to themselves so they know how to sign to their little ones.

This chart from Babysignlanguage.com is a great visual to print out and reference at home.

This is another great chart, with pictures, and more information on signing from http://www.welcomebabyuc.org

In an article by Brenda Seal, PhD, CCC-SLP called “About Baby Signing”, Seal addresses the importance of introducing signs that are developmentally appropriate for little ones.  Seal compiled a list of 25 signs that are recommended to introduce to tyically developing, preverbal babies.  Click here for Seal’s article About Baby Signing

Recommended-Choices-for-a-First-Sign-Lexicon

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If you are still looking for a program, be sure to check out early intervention programs offered by your state.  For example, in California, First Five centers often offer baby sign.  Also, Signing Time DVDs are engaging and entertaining for little ones.

How do I introduce signs?

Think about how you talk to your baby.  You talk throughout the day: changing diapers, getting dressed, eating, playing, taking a bath, etc.  Think about times when it would be most helpful for your little one to be able to communicate a want or need to you.  Start there!  For example, if it would be most beneficial for your little one to be able to communicate when “all done” with eating.  Start with introducing the sign for “all done” when eating.  Then think about other times, throughout your day when you use the phrase/concept “all done”.  Use the sign WITH your verbal language throughout your day.  Right there you are modeling verbal language AND signs to your little one.

*Know the when teaching signs such as “more” and “all done”, babies will overgeneralize these signs.  That’s developmentally appropriate, but continue modeling the appropriate use of these signs.

Will using signs delay verbal language development?

Short answer: NO!  When teaching and using signs with little ones, be sure to always use your verbal language, too.  When you sign “mommy” always say “mommy” with it.  While there is limited conclusive research supporting baby sign accelerating or improving verbal language development, it is suggested that parents who choose to learn signs and encourage their little ones to use signs may have already given their babies a genetic advantage for learning language!! (Seal, 2010)

My baby can hear.  Why should I use signs?

Typically developing babies will say their first INTENTIONAL word around the age of one (there can be great variety in timing).  However, babies understand language far before they are able to verbalize.  Around 8 to 9 months of age, babies develop the ability to control their hands/arms for intentional signs and gestures.  Introducing and using simple signs with your baby will help them communicate what they want and need.  When babies communicate their wants and need, their wants and needs get met.  They are happy babies and we are happy caregivers!

Have you use signs or gestures with your baby to support communication? I’d love to hear from you!

Ziploc Masterpiece

My 8 month old little boy just created his first master piece.  That’s right…I am the proud mama of a true artist!  How?!  Glad you asked…

Here’s what you will need:

Ziploc: Your choice with the size…I went with a larger size

Paper: I went with a thicker paper and folded it a little bit so it fit nicely into the Ziploc

Paint: I went with tempera paint.  The paint is in little tubs…easy for pouring

Any fun accessory item: rice, foil, etc.

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Tips for travel with baby: Airplane

Me: “I’m taking my 6 month old baby on a flight to Nebraska, with one stop in Denver, by myself”

Everyone I talked to: WHAT?!  You are nuts!

My brother was planning to propose to his fabulous girlfriend in Nebraska.  Both families were invited to join in the celebration and surprise my brother’s girlfriend at an engagement dinner after the proposal (good thing she said “yes” or that could have been awkward).  When I found out my husband was not going to be able to go to Nebraska for the weekend (darn school and work), I decided that I was going to take on traveling with a baby on my own…I NEEDED to be at this engagement celebration and my little T man needed to be there, too!

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Cheese and pepperoni….hold the anchovies

My first two years working as a SLP, I had the privilege of working at an early intervention program with children ages 3-5  years old.  During my time at the early intervention program, I was blessed to be supported by intelligent and caring coworkers.  I didn’t realize just how crucial their support would be in helping to shape me as a SLP.  My time with the amazing professionals at the early intervention program shaped me and my philosophy for serving our speech and language students:

“Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori

To this day, even when working with my older students, I make our therapy sessions together the equivalent of their “play”.  Meaning, our time together and what we work on needs to be intentional, functional, and meaningful to my students.  I thank my coworkers and friends at the early intervention program (you all know who you are) for helping to solidify that theory!

With that, I am pleased to share with you a post by Jennifer LeGardeur.  Jennifer works at the early intervention program where I started my SLP career.  Jennifer started out as my CFY supervisor and mentor, but quickly became a dear friend.  When I was at the early intervention program, Jennifer and I saw our preschool groups at the same time in neighboring rooms.  We spent a lot of time collaborating, and I was nervous that when I left the early intervention program, I would not have that same collaborative experience, but Jennifer has kept it going.  I get emails from her with ideas, new books, new apps, etc. to share with me.  I asked her if she would want to write a post for my blog, and I’m so excited she agreed!  Enjoy…

jenn

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